It’s summer in Korea and with that comes the heat, humidity and grumpiness. I love summer but this isn’t it. This is hell. This Capetonian is NOT used to humidity!
Today we had the first Boknal Day, also known as dog days. Boknal is the three hottest days of summer. It is calculated according to the Lunar calender. This year, the first boknal day, known as “Cho bok” is today – July 18th. This marks the start of the hottest period. The second boknal day, “Jung bok” is on July 28th and marks the middle. “Mal bok”, the third and final dog day is on August 7th and represents the end of the terrible heat.
The secret to beating Korean summer? Food. Koreans eat cold dishes and healthy foods that are known for restorative powers. Some Koreans also believe in “Yi Yeol Chi Yeol” (beat heat with heat) and eat a range of hot soups or stews that are uber healthy. In the past, Boshintang (dog stew) was a popular dish served on these three days, but these days most Koreans prefer the chicken soup (Three yay’s to chicken soup! Chicken Soup *yay!* Chicken Soup *yay!* Chicken Soup *yay!*) So here ye’ go! What to eat to beat the heat:
Samgyetang (Chicken ginseng soup)
Samgyetang is one of my favorite Korean soups. A chicken is stuffed with rice, garlic, ginger, licorice root and a few yummy herbs. It is then boiled to make a hearty and nutritious broth. When you have a cold, this is also the “I-miss-my-mommy-meal” to have.
In this yummy summer dish, chicken is mixed with spicy peppers, mushrooms and other vegetables and stewed in a sweet but spicy soy sauce broth. It is often served with dongchimi (radish kimchi) because it neutralizes some of the spiciness of the dish.
Jangeo-gui is broiled eel. It is often seasoned with salt or hot pepper paste, sugar, soybean sauce, minced garlic, ginger, or sesame oil.
I love it. Boyfriend hates it. This is cold noodles. Literally. Naengmyeon is made with buckwheat noodles. There are two different types of Naengmyeon. Mul Naengmyeon served with an ice cold broth (think ice cubes or crushed ice in your soupy noodle dish) or Bibim Naengmyeon, which is topped with spicy gochujang (hot pepper paste). Both are usually served with a boiled egg, cucumber, and pear slices. I love the cold, vinegary taste.
Korean desert. Personally I do *not* like this one… :/ This dessert is made with shaved ice, fruit, rice cakes, sweetened milk, and syrup. Sounds good? Yeah. Then they add red beans. Meh. Apparently there are also other flavors, like coffee (instead of the beans) and fruit. I’d much rather just have a scoop of Baskin Robbins and use the ice in a nice Mojito.. :)
Anyways, eat these dishes to survive this terrible heat! Another popular one is watermelon! Expensive but oh so delish! We actually had watermelon as well as samgyetang for lunch at school today! Happy Cho bok! And since it’s not actually hot today.. at all.. May the other two be as cool as today!